Public interest litigation- delay and laches

LEGAL CONSULTANT

 

(C) Constitution of India, Art.226 - Public Interest Litigation - Delay and laches - Plea stricto sensu can hardly be applied to P.I.L. unless and until the delay in approaching the Court is mala fide and its entertainment would imbalance the equities between the affected parties to the extent of causing injustice which the conscience of the Court does not permit or its economic effect is such that it will be more appropriate for the Courts to reject the petition on that ground.  
 
 Delay and laches is a ground which has to be effectively considered by the Court while entertaining Writ Petitions but this principle is appropriately applied in Writ Petitions dealing with individual interests. Such plea stricto senso can hardly be applied to Public Interest Litigation unless and until the delay in approaching the Court is mala fide and its entertainment would imbalance the equities between the affected parties to the extent of causing injustice which the conscience of the Court does not permit or its economic effect is such that it will be more appropriate for the Courts to reject the Petition on that ground. None of these factors are satisfied in the present case. According to the Petitioner, they came to know of the clearance of year 2005 and could receive the documents through Gram Panchayat only in the year 2007 where after they made representation, took out public morchas and thereafter have approached the Court. Certainly, there is some delay but it is not a case of patent inordinate delay where the Petitioners have slept over their rights totally and have approached the Court mala fide. Particularly in relation to environmental matters, the approach of the Court has to be somewhat liberal. Successful environmental policies require many things, the most vital being the support of the common masses and that happens only if there is an ethical commitment to environmental values. 

DIGHI KOLI SAMAJ MUMBAI RAHIVASI SANGH VS. UNION OF INDIA & ORS.
      2009-ALL MR-4-896   (Para 15)  
 
 
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